For a decade, Wilmingtonians flocked to Battleship Park every May to celebrate their furry friends and family. More importantly, they attended the annual Paw Jam event to help numerous animal nonprofits, all 501c(3) organizations, continue thriving in our area. Headed by PAWS (Pets Are Worth Saving) of NC, the event distributed over $100,000 in their 10-year history. Yet, in 2012 they held their last event.
“The founders of Paw Jam decided to retire the event and pursue other ventures,” Jennifer Bloech, of the Boston Terrier Rescue of NC, says. “I volunteered with the annual rescue at Paw Jam for many years. The event had grown exponentially, and the donations we, the groups, received became a significant amount of our annual donations.”
In 2013 volunteers for Paw Jam came together to start brainstorming ideas on how to resurrect another paw party. Seeing the success firsthand at Battleship Park, they wanted to secure it again for the first annual Pawz in Park. They asked for advice from the Paw Jam founders, plus reached out to local rescue groups, restaurants and beverage companies, as well as media to launch it all via donations.
“We started the event this year with zero dollars,” Bloech says, “and have been able to make it possible with donations and sponsor monies. The media has been truly instrumental.”
For instance, all half page ads in encore are being paid for by Kingoff’s Jewelers and Colonial Marketing. Likewise, Queensboro donated T-shirts and DPI Printing Company provided all posters, flyers and printing needs. “The support for our first year has been truly phenomenal,” Bloech says.
They have 16 rescue groups slated to set up booths: Boston Terrier Rescue Team of the Carolinas; Great Dane Rescue; Monty’s Home Adoption Top Cat; Canines for Service; Coastal Carolina Boston Terrier Rescue; Pender County Humane Society; Echo Dogs White Shepherd Rescue; Carolina Boxer Rescue; Merit Pit Bull foundation; Adopt-An-Angel; Carolina Poodle Rescue; Sunburst Foundation; Friends FUR Life K9 Rescue; Brunswick County Sheriff’s Animal Protective Services; and Cape Fear Parrott Sanctuary. All donations made at each booth go directly to the rescues. All proceeds from event admission and beer sales go into the operating cost for next April’s throwdown. “There is absolutely no for-profit ventures gained from the event,” Bloech clarifies.
Pawz in Park will have a slew of entertainment happening throughout the day. Veterinarians and guest speakers will educate visitors about the importance of spaying and neutering. Rescues will offer info on how to volunteer. As well, Dr. Ernie Ward “America’s Pet Advocate,” a candidate for Senate District 8 in NC, will speak in the morning.
“He is a proponent of the puppy mill bill (anti-breeder bill legislation) and works in the areas of special needs of senior dogs and cats and pet obesity,” Bloech informs.
Plus, nationally known author Michael Muller will bring his Boston Terrier, Mirabelle, for whom he’s written a series of books.”[They’re] entirely inspired by his daily walks with her around his Union Square neighborhood,” she says, “and he will be autographing copies.”
The Army Corp of Engineers will host Buddy Beaver and Water Saftey Dog to show kids the importance of water safety. Face-painting and bouncy houses will keep the children happily entertained, too, as will the 22 pet-related vendors selling wares. Live music will be performed by Stray Local and Folkstar, and MCs will rotate throughout the day from local radio stations 102.7 WGNI, Coast 97.3, Double Q 101, and 94.5 the Hawk. “Most of all, it’s a venue where pet lovers can just get together and have some fun!” Bloech ensures.
Food will be sold by Fuzzy Peach, PT’s, Flaming Amy’s, and Pender County Humane Society will be selling hotdogs. Coastal Beverage will have Miller Lite, Corona and Yeungling for sale, served by Wild Wing Cafe’s donated “beer-tenders.”
“We have doggie pools for the animals who want to take a dip,” Bloech says, “and with the help of encore, we will be giving away prizes for our many pet contests—details not totally decided on yet, but we’re considering Best Dressed, Dog/Human look-a-like and Best Trick contests.”
Yet, the main focus will remain on acquainting the public with the pros of adopting a pet over buying one. Recruiting locals for their various causes also remains priority. “Our volunteers are our extended voices,” Bloech explains. “Animal rescue has been one of the most rewarding things I have ever gotten into.”
Pawz in Park
Saturday, May 3rd, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Battleship Park • 1 Battleship Rd NE
Admission $5 (furry friends, free)